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FILE - This June 18, 2015, file photo, provided by the Charleston County Sheriff's Office shows Dylann Roof. Court documents unsealed Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, in the federal death penalty trial of Dylann Roof indicate the judge believes it's possible the white man charged with gunning down nine black parishioners may not be mentally competent to stand trial. (Charleston County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

Dylann Roof faces the death penalty, but some victims' families want him to live


A judge confirmed Dylann Roof, accused of shooting and killing nine African-Americans in a historically black Charleston, S.C., church in 2015, will stand trial and face the death penalty.

But according to The New York Times, family members of Roof's victims and many other African-Americans would rather he live. 

Roof has offered to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence in prison. The government has refused such a plea deal. Jury selection for his trial is set to begin Monday.

I want that guy every morning when he wakes up, and every time he has an opportunity for quiet and solitude, to think of what Tywanza said to him...
Andrew J. Savage III, lawyer for victims

Andrew J. Savage III, a Charleston lawyer representing three survivors and many family members of victims, said he would prefer Roof recall the words of Tywanza Sanders, who told Roof "We mean you no harm" before he was shot and killed.

Victims' relatives forgive, urge shooter to repent

When Roof was initially arrested, family members of victims forgave him.

Opinions over Roof's fate are sharply divided over racial lines. Last spring, the University of South Carolina found 64 percent of white South Carolinians wanted Roof to face the death penalty. Just 31 percent of black residents agreed.

Gov. Nikki Haley, President-elect Donald Trump's pick for the ambassador to the U.N., said she wanted Roof to face the death penalty within hours of his arrest. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced her plan to seek the death penalty in May. 

Should Dylann Roof face the death penalty?

Some Twitter users didn't mince words for Roof, but still opposed the death penalty.

Others thought his execution was inevitable.

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